Spotify U.S Launches Monday
-- April Fool's Day got off to an early start - for those of us in the U.S. - when a post at TechCrunch EU reported that Spotify was immediately ceasing its European operations in order to launch in the U.S. on Monday. "We're hearing from multiple sources today that deals are finally in place with major US record labels and the company's Valley investors are ready to provide the additional cash needed to pay for costly music licenses," it says.
The post includes some hilarious quotes. CEO Daniel Ek explained the move in an email to European users: "America has always been the most important and lucrative market for web services, and so the decision to close down our European operations to fund a US launch was, frankly, a no-brainer." And an anonymous European investor explained the reason for leaving: "[T]he simple fact remains that America is the only place that matters when it comes to start-up success." And TechCrunch even linked to a dummy SpotifyUSA.com web page that apologizes it is "currently undergoing scheduled maintenance.
( TechCrunch EU)
Jay-Z and Beyonce Buy EMI
-- At Forbes.com, Zack O'Malley Greenburg reported that Jay-Z and Beyonce had reached an agreement to buy EMI for $2.5 billion. "Citi, which took control of embattled EMI earlier this year, is said to have accepted the couple's bid and rejected others from the likes of Edgar Bronfman's Warner Music Group, Steve Jobs' Apple, and railway tycoon Sir Topham Hatt's private equity fund, Sodor Capital Partners." The post went so far as to include a link to Sir Topham Hatt's bio at Forbes.com, which puts his railroad and real estate empire at $2 billion. As noted at the bottom of the bio, Hatt is actually a character on the television series "Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends."
Zynga Bidding For Warner Music Group
-- MusicAlly put together a post about phony news that online gaming company Zynga had entered a bid for Warner Music Group. Zynga has "an audacious plan to refocus WMG's business around social sharing and virtual items," the post claimed, and the first artist-centric game out of the shoot would be MuseVille. Digital Music News bit on the story. Had they clicked on the link to the Wall Street Journal article that was purported to have broke the story, they would have seen an image of a bottle of Heinz ketchup with "April Fool!" on the label.
Huffington Post's Pay Wall For New York Times Employees
-- It's not music-related, but it's funny: The Huffington Post announced it is launching digital subscriptions for employees of the New York Times (the Times launched its paywall in the U.S. on Monday, March 28). It's an important step that we hope you will see as an investment in The Huffington Post, one that will strengthen our ability to provide high-quality journalism to readers around the world -- and especially to our readers inside The New York Times," wrote founder Arianna Huffington. Visitors can read the first six letters of each word at no extra charge. Beyond six letters people will be asked to become a subscriber.
( Huffington Post)
NON-APRIL FOOLS BIZ MATTERS:
Live Nation's WMG Bid Impacts Stocks
-- Good thing news about Live Nation's bid for Warner Music Group's recorded music division broke on March 31 rather than April 1. But news did break on March 31, and investors took the news to be the real deal. Shares of Live Nation immediately fell 2.4% to $9.89 when the Wall Street Journal and New York Post appeared online but quickly rebounded to $10.13 and closed down 1.28% at $10.00. On Friday shares reached a high of $10.20 from Thursday's low and ended up down 0.2% to $9.98.
EMI's Faxon is Upbeat
-- The Financial Post has a good interview with EMI chief Roger Faxon. This sample of the interview gives a good taste of Faxon's approach to technology and transformation:
"You bought it so that you could listen to it when you wanted to listen to it, so it became this collectible. It was precious. Now it's ubiquitous … distribution is infinite in the digital age. The access to music is infinite. We can be the guideposts, but we can't restrict the access. We used to be able to do that. That was a predicate of the old model. The world has changed and it's been a difficult transition for the music business, but I actually think it's for the better."
And is there enough money in digital? Faxon thinks there is.
"One can see in a streaming world sufficient value for there to be a great business for the service providers, a great business for the underlying distribution structure and a great business for the people who create music…There's enough of a pie, if you will. That's why I'm pretty optimistic. There is an economic model that works, and we're in the transition to that. But there's proof around the world that the pie is big enough."
Jonathan Mann Kickstarters His '1000 Songs in 1,000 Days' Project
-- Kickstarter is turning out to be a fantastic tool for artists to raise funding for their projects. One of the more interesting projects currently seeking funding is by Jonathan Mann. The singer-songwriter is trying to collect $10,000 to help wrap up his "1,000 songs in 1,000 days" project that started on January 1, 2009. For the final 30 songs Mann will write and record, he is hoping to collaborate with other musicians. The money will help rent gear, create live online streams of the collaborations and pay for an album featuring ten of the final 30 songs voted on by the fans. Writing and recording a song a day for 1,000 days is impressive enough, but this is a fine way to finish off the project. With 27 days to go, Mann has gathered nearly $2,600 in pledges from 49 backers.